“Still, what I want in my life
is to be willing
to be dazzled —
to cast aside the weight of facts
and maybe even
to float a little
above this difficult world.
I want to believe I am looking
into the white fire of a great mystery.
I want to believe that the imperfections are nothing —
that the LIGHT is everything — that it is more than the sum
of each flawed blossom rising and fading. And I do.”
- Mary Oliver, from “The Ponds”
Welcome to my word for 2017: LIGHT.
One Little Word is a project created and developed by Ali Edwards. If you so wish, you can sign up for a year-long workshop. It involves monthly creative prompts wherein you invite your chosen word into your life, reflect on it, and record how it is moving you.
This is my third year for the One Little Word project. After a not-so successful inaugural year, I shied away from possibly participating again. While I won’t be partaking in the workshop from Ali, I will take the same approach I did last year where I write monthly reflections about how my word is manifesting itself.
Last year’s word, CENTER, was amazing. It’s exactly what I needed. It had to do with listening to my true, “centred” self, and the peace that radiates from that place. During the year, it also helped me to have a visual representation for my word to call to mind when I needed to use it as a sort of mantra. For last year’s word, I chose ripples as my symbol.
While my 2015 word, AIM, had potential, it ended up working against my well-being. It’s not the word’s fault; rather, it was the expectations I put on the word that hurt me. I wanted 2015 to be a year of forging ahead with my goals, and I focused on a sort of end result. This made the word more of a talisman, or magical incantation that I assumed would bring some new joy into my life. However, what I have learned about myself is that my emotions have seasons, and when I entered into the “winter” of my moods, AIM became a tool for self-harm. I became a disappointment to myself.
My OLW for 2015 wasn’t a waste, however. I learned from that year that my word works best when it is more wide in scope. It needs to have multiple angles and definitions and not be tied to a specific, concrete goal. CENTER had a lot of different directions (ironically) that were available for interpretation and I need to have that sort of wiggle room in my consciousness with how I treat myself. If I don’t have that space, I can be a wicked taskmaster.
The other weird pride I had for AIM and CENTER was that they were words that weren’t commonly used for this project. Each year, Ali posts all the words that people choose and AIM and CENTER were words that I had never seen in previous years. LIGHT is an incredibly common word choice for this project, but that’s OK. It’s not about originality; it’s about what the word means for me.
Part of my practice for settling on a word is to make note of its definition(s), its antonyms and synonyms, and choosing an icon that will help me focus on what I want it to mean for me. For LIGHT, I chose a feather rather than the more obvious light bulb or some similar thing, because it’s the gentle, weightlessness the word carries that I want to focus on for 2017. Here are some of the definitions/notes I’ve made about LIGHT that helped me conceptualize my word and bring it alive for me:
- the natural agent that stimulates sight and makes things visible
- to set to burning; ignite
- to become illuminated
- luminous, radiant energy
- gentle or delicate
- to cause to brighten
- to guide
- to come to rest; to settle upon
Other words that have connections to LIGHT that will inspire me throughout 2017:
If it’s not already obvious, I LOVE WORDS. And even though LIGHT is so seemingly simple, I love that it isn’t. I love the complexity that a multi-layered word has because it allows me to apply it more easily to nearly everything.
LIGHT is about radiating gentle energy, having clarity, and letting go of whatever weighs me down.
How can I be LIGHT in this moment? How can I be LIGHT in 2017?